Robert L. Peters

11 April 2009

Chernobyl today,

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Prypiat, Ukraine

Haunting images taken several decades after the 26 April 1986 blast at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, in what is today a radioactive ghost town in the “zone of alienation.” More images and their backstory here. (thanks for the link, Adrian)

I posted in December about my friend, former army officer (and poster artist) Lieutenant Oleg Veklenko, who was among thousands of reservists mobilized by the Chemical Defense army forces to “clean up” the remains of the reactor. In the disturbing days that followed (he was stationed at Chernobyl for two months), he took many photographs of the reactor and the people affected by radiation, capturing viewpoints not accessible to the international media at the time (especially hard-hit were those within 30 km of the plant).

The hard experiences learned from the Chernobyl incident formed a leitmotif of moral responsibility that became central to Oleg’s subsequent life (as an artist and teacher at the Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Arts). In 1991 he organized an international poster exhibition entitled «4th Block» and every third year since, Kharkiv has been the site of the international triennial of the eco-poster, eco-graphics, and youth-oriented eco-projects. Exhibits “touch the most painful ecological problems; pollution of the environment, global warming, genetic engineering, etc.” View the «4th Block» web site (with a sampling of hundreds of works from previous triennial events) here.

Images shown above: Road sign for Prypiat (where the workers at the nuclear plant lived); Prypiat funfair, scheduled to open on 1 May (five days after the nuclear reactor’s melt-down); the hospital, where Reactor 4’s victims went for immediate treatment after the blast.

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